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On Jul 8, 2013, shares of Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT - Analyst Report) soared to a new 52-week high of $109.39 driven by sizeable contract wins from the Department of Defense as well as from its international customers. The company recorded positive earnings surprise in three of the last four quarters, resulting in an average beat of 16.6%.

Lockheed has successfully clinched a number of defense contracts in the first half of 2013, thanks to its diversified operations. The company’s persistent focus on technological innovation has allowed Lockheed to attract lucrative government orders in the past as well as present.

The most notable award received by Lockheed this year is the $320 million U.S. Air Force contract for the supply of enhanced communications reliability, survivability, and information capabilities. Its strategic joint venture with Boeing Company (BA - Analyst Report), United Launch Alliance, proved profitable with the entity clinching a lofty $1.1 billion order for the production of the new Evolved Expendable Space Launch Vehicle.

Overseas contract flows have also been promising. Lockheed secured a $308.3 million foreign military sales contract for the continued delivery of tactical missiles and modification kits to Kuwait defense forces.

Furthermore, Lockheed’s cost-control efforts bore positive results with the development and production cost for F-35 fighters declining 1.1% during the first quarter. We believe these positive factors will help Lockheed to successfully counter the uncertain environment in the defense sector.

The expected long-term earnings growth rate for the company is set at 6.8% while the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2013 reflects an estimated 6.4% jump to $8.99 from $8.45 in 2012.

The present valuation makes the shares of Lockheed look attractive. The forward price/earnings (“P/E”) multiple of 12.1x is lower than the peer group average of 14.5x, reflecting a discount of 16.5%. In addition, Return on Equity ("ROE") of the company is 232.7%, significantly higher than the peer group average of 18.2%.

Lockheed currently holds a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Other companies in the industry worth considering are Zacks Ranked #1 (Strong Buy) Erickson Air-Crane Incorporated (EAC - Snapshot Report) and Zacks Ranked #2 (Buy) Northrop Grumman Corp. (NOC - Analyst Report).

Bethesda, MD-based Lockheed Martin presently has a market capitalization of $34.72 billion.

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